NSCC BIO101-01 Winter 2004






Research Paper



About Your Instructor


download syllabus pdf file here
download syllabus addendum here


Winter 2004


Instructor:  Erica D. Smith
Email:  esmith@sccd.ctc.edu                           Website:  http://faculty.northseattle.edu/esmith
Phone:  (206) 527-3746 NSCC Science Division Office, (206) 616-9484 UW Lab Number
Lecture:  Th LB 1131 8:00-9:50
Lab:       M, T, W ED 0842A 8:00-9:50
Office Hours:  T/W 10-10:50 and by appointment in LB 0228E, phone (206)528-4548
Required Texts:  Essential Biology.  Campbell, Reece, and Simon (2nd Edition) 2004

Course Description and Objective:  In this course, you will learn fundamental biological concepts and terminology, from the ‘micro’ scale of cellular organization and processes to the ‘macro’ scale of the biosphere and its diverse ecosystems and organisms. We will pay particular attention to molecular and cellular biology, genetics, and biodiversity.  By the end of the quarter, you will have a basic understanding of the scientific process and be able to knowledgeably discuss current topics in biology and medicine.

Attendance and Participation:  Attendance and participation in class, lab, discussions and other activities are essential to the learning process.  Attendance will be recorded.  In the event of illness or emergency, please let me know if you are unable to attend class.  A student who stops attending class without an official withdrawal will be given a grade based upon work completed up to the point of withdrawal.  I will use attendance records to determine grades that are ‘borderline’ at the end of the quarter.  Participation will be factored into the discussion grade (see below) and I strongly encourage questions and comments during class, labs, and other activities.

Exams:  There will be three exams and one lab practical over the course of the quarter.  The lecture-based exams will not be cumulative; however, exams 2 and 3 will have extra credit questions based on previous material.  The lab practical will be cumulative.  If you are unable to attend class the day of an exam, you must notify me one week in advance so that we can schedule a make-up exam.  If you miss an exam without prior notice, you forfeit your right to a make-up exam.

Laboratories:  The lab activities are designed to help you understand and apply the skills and concepts we have covered in the classroom and to give you hands-on experience with the scientific process.  Attendance and participation is absolutely required on scheduled lab days.  Labs will normally be on Mondays, except for the first week and holidays.  Lab assignments (either a worksheet or a short lab report) will be due in lab the following week as noted in the schedule.  Assignments that are turned in late will be docked 10% for each day it is late.

Group Activities and Discussions:  I have incorporated a number of activities, designed to support the lecture and lab material, into the syllabus.  These activities include, but are not limited to, short videos, web exercises, molecular modeling, field trips, and guest speakers.  Wednesdays will be our scheduled discussion day.  The discussions will be based on a reading assignment related to a current ‘hot topic’ in biology.  Communication is a very important part of science—these discussion groups will give you experience in both oral and written scientific communication.  Each discussion will be lead by a group of three students, starting this week.   Discussion leaders will be responsible for presenting background information and highlighting the important concepts and issues related to the topic.  On the day of discussion, the discussion leaders will submit a one-page paper with references, as a group.  The class will take a short reading quiz before the beginning of each discussion section.  Participation is expected and may include questions, comments, opinions, debate, bringing in supplementary articles, etc. 

Research Paper:  Instead of a cumulative final for this class, each student will prepare a 5-8 page research paper (double-spaced, 12 pt. font) on the topic of their choice.  This exercise is designed to familiarize students with the scientific resources that are available to the public and to help develop your critical thinking and scientific writing skills.  If you have trouble finding an interesting topic or reliable resources, I am happy to help.  There are several deadlines for this assignment throughout the quarter (see the attached class schedule).  Any late submissions will be noted and 5% will be deducted from your final paper grade.  The research paper rough draft is optional and for your benefit.  If you submit a rough draft, I will read your paper, make comments and corrections, and return it to you promptly for revision. March 3-11 is the week that I have made available for reading drafts of your research papers.  Rough drafts will not be accepted after this period.  The final draft of your research paper is due 3/24 at 8:00 a.m.

Field Trips:  There will be two field trips scheduled, outside of class time, this quarter.  Each student is required to attend at least one of the field trips.  If you have a conflict with both scheduled field trips, I will arrange an alternative fun activity for you to do independently.

Instructor Expectations and Advice:  I recognize that every student has a different educational background and different personal and career goals.  The in-class survey that you will complete today allows me to get to know you a little bit, as individuals and as a class.  It will also give you the opportunity to let me know what you expect to get from this class.  As your instructor, I expect honesty, effort and a willingness to learn.  This is a challenging topic and there is a lot of material to cover, but I have tried to design the curriculum to make it a fun and interactive experience for us all.  The best advice I can give you is to use your resources!  You have an excellent textbook with lots of extra resources.  As your instructor, I encourage you to take advantage of my office hours or contact me to make an appointment.  If you have a problem with something in the curriculum, let me know.  I welcome any comments or feedback you have regarding the material or the teaching methods used in the class.  I will distribute an informal evaluation at the end of week 4 to give you a chance to tell me things that can be improved. 


Exams (4) 40%
Chapter Quizzes 5%
Research Paper 15%
  Practical 15%
  Assignments 10%
  Presentation & Paper 5%
  Quizzes & Participation 5%
Field trip/Activities 5%

NSCC Grade Scale:

4.0-3.5 A/A- 90-100%
3.4-2.9 B+/B 80-89%
2.8-2.2 B-/C+ 70-79%
2.1-1.5 C/C- 60-69%
1.4-0.9 D+/D 50-59%
0.8-0.0 D-/E <50%

Special Addendum:  In class on 2/4/04, I announced that I would give students the option of doing the online activity quizzes for each chapter in the textbook for chapters 9 through 18 for a total of 50 points (5%) of the final grade.  These points would substitute for 5% of the exam grade, making exams II and III worth 12.5% each instead of 15%.  I called this "Option A."  The other option, "Option B," was to keep the current grading system, with no obligation to do the online quizzes and the exams counting for 15% each of the final grade. You may each choose the option which best suits your schedule and learning style.  However, you must choose by Feb. 9, 2004, as this is the first due-date for the online quizzes.  The due-dates for submitting your online quiz results are posted on the class schedule on this website.

To do the online activity quizzes, you must go to the textbook website and sign-in OR use the CD-ROM that came with your book.  For each chapter, there are three quizzes you can do: (1) pre-test, (2) activity quiz, and (3) chapter quiz.  While I encourage you to do ALL of the quizzes, I am only accepting the activity quiz for credit.  You may do the quiz as many times as you need to get the correct answers before you submit the results.  When you submit the results, be sure to include your name and my email address so that I can record the results in my gradesheet.